Most of us describe that we don’t sleep well. And along with stress, and the amount of time we’re on our devices, we consider lack of sleep to simply be another 21st century factor that’s just a normal part of life. And it’s not.
Good sleep is essential for repair, health and living to our best potential and further, several studies link poor sleep with a shortened life span.
So let’s consider some of the facts, and start a journey toward beautiful sleep.
When we consider our sleep patterns most of us evaluate the hours we spend in bed e.g. what time did we go to bed, how long did it take us to fall asleep, what time did we wake during the night, and for how long. How many hours in total did we get?
However, good sleep patterns are best determined by the patterns during our day. If we want our brain to switch off for sleep, we need to get our brain in the habit of switching off on demand. Our constantly ‘on’ life has made this challenging.
For that reason it’s important to take moments several times per day – perhaps every 90 minutes to begin with – to switch off, just for a minute.
Many of us have inadvertently become shallow breathers i.e. breathing primarily into our chest. This triggers a stress response, and if our stress response is continually engaged, it is almost impossible to fall into a long gentle sleep for the night.
Learn to breathe correctly, into your diaphragm, as a matter of course during the day. This has a direct impact on sleep as well as assisting with cognition, problem solving, critical thinking and calm.
Being on our devices is an over-stimulant, period. Our brain does not effectively assimilate all the information we consume on our devices, and this causes it to flicker, lose attention and it is less able to focus. Ongoing digital consumption literally scrambles our thinking and we experience a low-level sense of being wired, yet tired.
We need to take regular breaks from our devices during the day, in moments of downtime when we would usually reach for it. And if we’re serious about getting good sleep we should experiment with no devices after dinner, along with no phones by our bedside.
Our body should not have to go to sleep feeling exhausted. We may think we have busy, full lives and that is the reason. However we are designed to cope with a full load. We are not designed to cope with digital overload.
You will be amazed at how different you feel going to bed, and how much better you sleep, if you’ve resisted your devices in the evening.
- No phones after dinner, or at your bedside
- Clutter free bedroom
- Note down ‘worries’ that will likely wake you. Take a moment to schedule when you’ll deal with them, so that it feels as though you’ve addressed them
- Write in a gratitude journal before bed – bullet points of neat things in your day
- Reading from a paper book before sleep – research shows that we become 68% calmer within 6 minutes of reading a book
One of the most important things is not to worry about sleep, despite how little you may think you’re getting. Trust that your good habits will eventually turn to beautiful sleep.
Author, Columnist & Wellness Retreats NZ Guest Speaker